Mind & Matter


Shanghai Expo Takes Shape

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Heatherwick Studio's British Pavilion


As construction nears completion for the Shanghai Expo 2010, a diverse collection of pavilions has taken shape under the theme “Better CIty, Better Life.” Like prior world expositions, the Shanghai Expo will seek to showcase the latest artistic and technological advancements in architecture and urban planning. With only 40 days to go, many of the Shanghai pavilions already feature surprising approaches toward materials and detailing.

Heatherwick Studio’s British Pavilion is a visually arresting structure that appears to be caught in a process of emergence—or disappearance. Made up of 60,000 thin, light-transmitting acrylic rods, the “Seed Cathedral” will allow visitors to explore a rich variety of seeds depicted at the end of the rods within the structure’s interior. The seed idea came late in the process—the pavilion was originally called a “Light Box” and a “Pavilion of Ideas”—however, the new motif has imparted the abstract structure with a more concrete message. According to architect Thomas Heatherwick, “The cathedral represents UK's understanding of 'better city, better life,' which also reflects how biological diversity has influenced and improved people's life.”


Interior of the Seed Cathedral




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About the Blogger

Blaine Brownell

thumbnail image Minnesota-based architect and author Blaine Brownell, AIA, is a self-defined materials researcher and sustainable building adviser. His "Product of the Week" emails and three volumes of Transmaterial (2006, 2008, 2010) provide designers with a steady flow of inspiration—a 21st-century Grammar of Ornament. Blaine has practiced architecture in Japan and the U.S. and has been published in more than 40 design, business, and science publications. The recipient of a Fulbright fellowship for 2006–07, he researched contemporary Japanese material innovations at the Tokyo University of Science. He currently teaches architecture and co-directs the M.S. in Sustainable Design program at the University of Minnesota. His book Matter in the Floating World was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2011.